About two months before the Delhi Police registered a case of murder against unknown persons in the death of Sunanda Pushkar, former Union minister Shashi Tharoor had accused the police of “assaulting” and “intimidating” his domestic help into “confessing” that they both killed Pushkar.
Tharoor even wrote a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi on November 12 last year. “I was therefore shocked and appalled to learn that in the course of the 16-hour interrogation conducted by four Delhi Police officers on Friday (7/11/14) and again during the 14-hour interrogation on Saturday (8/11/14), my domestic helper Narayan Singh was repeatedly physically assaulted by one of your officers. Worse, the officer used the traumatic physical assault to try and intimidate Narayan into ‘confessing’ that he and I murdered my wife,” Tharoor said in the letter.
Confirming that he had received the letter, Bassi said the matter was looked into and the allegations were found to be baseless.
The police on Wednesday also announced that a Special Investigative Team (SIT) had been formed to probe into the case after charges of murder were registered on Tuesday. “Since January 1, we have questioned 55 people involved in this investigation, including hotel and hospital staff. A Delhi Police team had also visited a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on December 2 last year where Ms Pushkar was admitted days before she was found dead,” a senior police officer said.
Sources in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), which conducted the post mortem, said the case would also mark the first time that viscera samples would be sent abroad for further tests to identify the nature and quantity of poison. Sources said that while the labs will test for new chemicals, which had been cited as possible poison which could not be identified in Indian labs by the AIIMS medical board, quantification estimation tests will also be conducted to analyse the amount of other chemicals found in the viscera reports of CFSL, but said to be non-fatal so far.
A member of the medical board said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that samples from India are being sent abroad for forensic tests to establish both the nature and quantity of poisons in the viscera. We have also recommended that the quantity of chemicals found in her viscera be established, including eythl alchohol, caffeine, acetaminophen (a paracetamol) and cotinine (an alkali found in tobacco), and some on her clothes like idocaine and methylparabaen be tested.” Of these, quantification can only be performed for ethyl alcohol in India, sources said.
Sources said in the first two weeks of November the three members of the medical board had also inspected the scene of crime in Leela hotel where Pushkar’s body was found, and examined in particular the mattress. “The mattress was wet like the clothes she was wearing, and had some urine stains. When this mattress was sent for FSL tests, the same chemicals were identified in the urine samples, indicating the chemicals were metabolised in her body, so she had taken them a considerable period earlier. We need to establish the quantity of each to give more details on the investigation,” a source said.
Doctors were also asked to elaborate on injury number 10, an injection mark, which “we have clarified may or may not have been used to inject the poison”, the source said.